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The EU said Monday it is urgently discussing a new round of sanctions on Russia as it condemned “atrocities” reported in Ukrainian towns that have been occupied by Moscow’s troops. News Online
The European Union “will advance, as a matter of urgency, work on further sanctions against Russia,” foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement on behalf of the bloc.
“We stand in full solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in these sombre hours for the whole world,” he said.
But Germany warned that cutting off the supply of Russian gas was not yet possible as a punishment, despite calls in several EU countries that the measure was necessary to face down Russia.
“We have to cut all economic relationship to Russia, but at the moment, it’s not possible to cut the gas supplies. We need some time,” German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said as he arrived for talks with his eurozone counterparts in Luxembourg.
“We have to differentiate between oil, coal and gas,” he added, though he refused to speculate on what measures would be put on the table.
One EU official told AFP that a new sanctions package on Russia would be discussed this week. EU foreign ministers could then look it over, either on the sidelines of a NATO meeting happening Wednesday and Thursday, or at their regular meeting early next week.
Borrell said in his statement that the EU “condemns in the strongest possible terms” the atrocities reported in Ukrainian towns that had been occupied by Russian forces, including the town of Bucha, where corpses were found with their hands bound.
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“The massacres in the town of Bucha and other Ukrainian towns will be inscribed in the list of atrocities committed on European soil,” Borrell said.
He said that “the Russian authorities are responsible for these atrocities, committed while they had effective control of the area”.
The statement stressed EU assistance to Ukrainian prosecutors “focused on collection and preservation of the evidences of the war crimes” and its support of probes launched by the International Criminal Court and the UN’s human rights commissioner.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in a separate statement that she held a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about “the dreadful murders that have been uncovered in Bucha and other areas from which Russian troops have recently left”.
Vowing justice for those found responsible, she said the EU had set up a joint investigation team with Ukraine to gather evidence of possible war crimes.
“The EU is ready to reinforce this effort by sending investigation teams on the ground to support the Ukrainian Prosecution Services. Eurojust and Europol are ready to assist,” she said, referring to EU law enforcement organisations.
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